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General Tso’s Chicken Recipe – Making Amazing Chinese Food with Your Chicken Nuggets

General Tso's Chicken with Broccoli — by David Smith
General Tso's Chicken with Broccoli — by David Smith

The Origins of General Tso’s Chicken

What are the origins of General Tso’s Chicken? Well General Tso was a Chinese guy, but he never ate this dish. You can also check out this article for other ideas about the origins.

But like all cooking, somebody had an idea or technique, they used it and others built upon it. Maybe you don’t even think my version of General Tso’s Chicken is it. Maybe it’s just Chicken and Broccoli with a fancier name. Or maybe it is “Ancestral Hall Chicken”, which is definitely not a sexy name.

General Tso’s is spicy, or at least it’s supposed to be a little spicy. Or maybe it’s General Tse’s Chicken. Or maybe it’s General Tsao’s. What’s this guy doing changing his name and spreading the glory of his spicy chicken.

Regardless of the opinion and some loose facts, it is an amazing dish that requires a few simple steps and results in amazing flavors. It’s the kind of dish where I eat until I’m full and then I go back for seconds.

General Tso's Sauce - Aromatics — by David Smith
General Tso's Sauce - Aromatics — by David Smith

General Tso’s Chicken Recipe in Stages

I like to start off by making the sauce. Because there are several separate stages to making this dish, I like to organize by making the more complicated components first. As such, my order is the sauce, the chicken, the broccoli.

Importantly, the sauce can easily be made a day or two earlier and then refrigerated. And the chicken is my chicken nugget recipe. Finally, the broccoli is the bounty we harvest from the earth or buy at the store.

The Other General Tso's Sauce Ingredients — by David Smith
The Other General Tso's Sauce Ingredients — by David Smith

Sauce for General Tso’s Chicken Recipe

¾ White Onion (Cebolla)

8 Cloves of Garlic (dientes de Ajo)

1-3 Tablespoons of Ginger (chucharas de Jengibra)

Peeled Ginger — by David Smith
Peeled Ginger — by David Smith

1-8 Dried Red Chilies (Chili Rojo seco)

¼-1/3 Cup of Ketchup (Salsa de Tomate)

1-2 Cups of Stroth – Chicken Broth (Caldo de Pollo)

1/3 Cup of Sweet Chili Sauce (Salsa dulce de Chili)

2 Tablespoons of Corn Oil (Aceite de Maíz)

1-2 Tablespoons of Cornstarch (Maicena)

2-3 Tablespoons of Sugar (Azúcar)

2 Tablespoons of Vinegar (Vinagre)

Starting the Sauce - Frying the Aromatics — by David Smith
Starting the Sauce - Frying the Aromatics — by David Smith

Making the Sauce

Chop all of the ingredients. I had some extra shallots, so I through those in for this recipe. However, you can use less onion if you like, but I really love the flavors of onions, so I loaded it up in this batch of General Tso’s Chicken. And I also chopped up the dried red chilies. If you like less spice, you can leave them whole, or leave them out entirely. Furthermore, there is a bit of spice from the sweet chili sauce and the ginger.

Start by frying the onions, garlic, ginger and chilies in the oil. After these have browned, add the chicken broth, ketchup, sugar and vinegar and sweet chili sauce. Also, this helps to deglaze the pan, so make sure you scrap off all the delicious brown bits that formed in the initial frying.

Although the taste will be intense, try tasting the sauce. Dip a spoon in it, let it cool and see how it tastes. There should be notes of all the ingredients, the strongest will be the sour from the vinegar, but there should also be sweetness from the sugar and sweet chili sauce. If something is completely missing, try offsetting it by adding a little bit of vinegar or a little bit of sugar. But again, remember, the flavors will be intense, like eating salt directly from a salt shaker, of course it's going to be salty and of course the flavors will be intense - General Tso's orders.

Importantly, this mixture should have a lot of liquid, so make sure you add enough chicken broth. If you need more, add more. It should not be a soup, but there should be a nice amount of liquid.

The Beginning of General Tso's Sauce — by David Smith
The Beginning of General Tso's Sauce — by David Smith

Next, you will be mixing some of the liquid with the cornstarch to help thicken the liquid. It can take some adjustments to get it right, but it is delicious. There are a lot of bold flavors in this Generals Tso’s Chicken Sauce, so don't be afraid to add more broth.

Making the Slurry - Adding the Cornstarch to the Sauce Liquid — by David Smith
Making the Slurry - Adding the Cornstarch to the Sauce Liquid — by David Smith

Adding the Slurry to the Sauce

After the mix has cooked and simmered for at least 10 minutes, strain and remove some of the liquid into a small bowl. This is the corn starch slurry, mix in a tablespoon or two of the corn starch and stir. You want it to be thoroughly mixed into this liquid. If you add the corn starch directly into the pan, it could instantly cook the cornstarch and you would make corn starch clumps.

Cornstarch Slurry  — by David Smith
Cornstarch Slurry  — by David Smith

Then pour the slurry back into the sauce and stir. The sauce should almost immediately thicken. If it turns into a ketchup-like thickness you have your sauce. When it is too thick, add some more broth. If it is too thin, repeat the slurry mix and add back to the sauce.

This sauce can keep refrigerated easily for a few days, so if you make it ahead of time and use it later it’s a great time saver.

Thickened General Tso's Spicy Sauce — by David Smith
Thickened General Tso's Spicy Sauce — by David Smith

Making the Chicken Nuggets

See my recipe for making Chicken Nuggets. It is perfect for this recipe.

Amazing Chicken Nuggets - Check out the Recipe — by David Smith
Amazing Chicken Nuggets - Check out the Recipe — by David Smith

General Tso’s Chicken with Broccoli Recipe – Bringing it all together

1 Large head of Broccoli (Brócoli)

Chop up the broccoli into about mouth-sized pieces. I like to keep them of a good size, as the broccoli tends to get smaller during the cooking. Put the broccoli in a large-size frying pan. I cook over a medium heat, add a few tablespoons of water and cover with a lid to help steam.

Cooking and Steaming the Broccoli — by David Smith
Cooking and Steaming the Broccoli — by David Smith

Per my suggestion, cook the broccoli for a short period of time, 5 minutes or less. I like a crunchier vegetable, which I also believe is healthier. But I understand if you like to murder your vegetables and cook them to beyond perfection. Important to note, the cooking will continue with mixing in the chicken nuggets and sauce.

General Tso's Chicken with Broccoli — by David Smith
General Tso's Chicken with Broccoli — by David Smith

Add the chicken nuggets and the sauce until everything is hot.

And that is my General Tso’s Chicken with Broccoli. I think it is delicious. And from start to finish I have controlled the quality and know exactly what is in it.

General Tso's Chicken with Broccoli — by David Smith
General Tso's Chicken with Broccoli — by David Smith

Time to enjoy your General Tso’s

And it’s easy to make into Sesame Chicken, too. Start by adding a tablespoon or 2 of Sesame oil to the sauce making when you add the chicken broth and sauces. And add some toasted sesame seeds at the very end of the cooking process and stir.

I hope you can enjoy this dish, serve with a cup of rice or some Asian-style noodles. It is one of my favorites. Created out of necessity and absolutely delicious.

This article was originally published on @talentedinternational